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Dougie Hamilton is bulking up… and coming to Boston? 06.26.12 at 3:27 pm ET
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The Bruins just may be adding another giant to their blueline this season.

Niagara IceDogs (OHL) general manager and head coach Marty Williamson told WEEI.com Tuesday that the team is not expecting to have defenseman Dougie Hamilton back next season. Hamilton, the Bruins’ ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, had 17 goals and 55 assists for 72 points in 50 games for the IceDogs while playing between 25-28 minutes a night and occasionally logging more than 30 minutes a game.

Junior-aged played (under 20 years old; Hamilton turned 19 this month) can play up to nine games with their NHL team and be sent back to their junior team without a year being burned off their entry-level deal, but Williamson thinks Hamilton, who will headline this week’s development camp, will have a much longer stay in Boston than that.

“He’s NHL-ready. I would not expect him back,” Williamson said. “I know Boston’s on a different program than some teams — they’re winning every year — and maybe that would factor in or something, but I think he’s definitely going to start with them. We’ll see how his NHL career starts, but I sure don’t anticipate him being back.”

Hamilton had 12 goals and 46 assists for 58 points in his draft year in 2010-11, but topped those numbers in 17 less games (he was suspended 10 games for an elbow to the head). Though Hamilton was already elite entering the season, Williamson said his 2011-12 performance was on another level.

“Just a lot of growth in his game,” the coach said of what Hamilton brought. “His decision-making, he really started to use his body with his size and strength to win battles. The year before he was a little more kind reckless to some extent, and he always used his stick, and now he’s really starting to use that body. He was the top defenseman in Canada in the CHL awards, and he did everything for us.”

One area of focus for the 6-foot-4 defenseman has been the process of filling out his frame. He began the season at 193 pounds but was able to finish the season at 198 pounds, with the coach saying that he’s understanding his frame more and “playing a big game.” Williamson noted that it’s easier to add pounds when one isn’t playing every day, and that he would expect Hamilton to be “damn close to that 205, 210″ pounds by the time training camp opens in September.

Williamson used Erik Gudbranson, the player the Panther’s chose third overall in the 2010 draft (after Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were drafted) to back up his point. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Gudbranson played 72 games last season as a rookie for Florida, putting up eight points (two goals, six assists).

“[Hamilton]’s tall and lean, but he’s very strong. I even think that at 200 pounds, he’ll be fine [in the NHL],” Williamson said. “When you look at a Gudbranson last year, he really wasn’t much more than that. Gudbranon’s a good, safe defenseman. I think Dougie’s got a lot more range to his game, that’s why I think he’ll be able to make that transition.

Hamilton was the 2011-12 recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman of the year and was one of the league’s top statistical offensive performers despite missing 18 games. While Williamson doesn’t think the Bruins expect him to run the power play right away, there is enough that he’ll bring to the table in his rookie year.

“I think there’s a growing period with him,” Williamson said. “I think he can be a very safe defenseman right off the bat. I was recently at a coaching seminar at the draft and [Bruins coaches] Geoff Ward and [Doug] Jarvis were there, and I think those are the expectations.

“I really don’t think he’s stepping in as the [power-play] quarterback kind of guy right off the bat. I think he’s a couple years away from that at the NHL level, but I think he can take up minutes, I think he can be safe in his own zone. I think he can add offense. If there’s an area where he’s still got a little bit of growth, it’s probably as that quarterback. I think the rest of his game is pretty solid, but I still think he’s got a little bit of growth. He’s got a good shot, but not maybe a pro, pro shot for a top-unit power play. I think there’s some growth there, that he’ll still develop.”

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Bruins announce development camp roster 06.25.12 at 3:28 pm ET
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The Bruins announced their roster for this week’s development camp Monday, with the group headlined by prospects such as Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight and 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban. The players attending are as follows:

Forwards: Darik Angeli, Anthony Camara, Colin Campbell, Daniel Carr, Justin Courtnall, Brian Ferlin, Justin Florek, Seth Griffith, Colton Hargrove, Alex Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Cody Payne, Ben Sexton, Wayne Simpson, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Matt Benning, Chris Casto, Tommy Cross, Matthew Grzelcyk, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Robbie O’€™Gara, Zach Trotman

Goaltenders: Zane Gothberg, Parker Milner, Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg, Lars Volden

Of the above group, Angeli, Campbell, Carr, Castro, Courtnall, Milner and Simpson are invitees.

Thoughts from after the NHL draft 06.23.12 at 11:32 pm ET
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Unlike the NFL or NBA draft, many fans won’€™t be familiar with the name they hear when their team make a pick. It’€™s safe to say that every Bruins fan knew the name well when Boston chose 24th overall Friday night.

The Bruins opted for goaltender Malcolm Subban, brother of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, in the first round to the surprise of many. The pick means that the Bruins and Canadiens could have brothers starring on each side of the rivalry down the road, but that’€™s all years away.

‘€œWe draft on best player available, fit, need and then rivalries,’€ Peter Chiarelli said with a laugh when asked about the pick. ‘€œThat was on top for this one.’€

While fans’€™ initial reactions may have been to the fact that the Bruins drafted a Subban, the far more intriguing aspect is that they drafted such a highly rated goalie. The organization could have stood to add another netminder in this year’€™s draft, but adding Subban immediately makes him Boston’€™s brightest goaltending prospect.

Like many goaltenders in their draft years, Subban is years away from being NHL ready. Zane Gothberg and Lars Volden, who were sixth round picks of the team in 2010 and 2011, respectively, are similarly far off from having an impact at the NHL level.

Last season while playing for Bellville (OHL), Subban had a 2.50 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He stands at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds and was the second goalie off the board this year behind Russian goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy, whom the Lightning chose 19th overall.

In addition to NHL netminders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, the Bruins also have Niklas Svedberg, Adam Courchaine, Michael Hutchinson and Adam Morrison under contract. Gothberg is expected to attend the University of North Dakota in the fall, while Volden is playing in the SM-liiga in Finland.

Here are some more thoughts following the 2012 NHL draft.

IS IT CARON’€™S TIME?

Perhaps the happiest member of the Bruins this draft weekend was their 2009 first-round pick in Jordan Caron. By dealing away restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot‘€™s rights to the Lightning, the Bruins opened up a spot for Caron to potentially step in and stay in the lineup for good.

Free agency and the trade market can change that, of course, as the Bruins could bring in a veteran forward (something Chiarelli has said he’€™d like to do), but Caron’€™s emergence down the stretch last season indicated he’€™s finally ready for a full NHL season. The Bruins would be wise to give him that opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: James Van Riemsdyk, Jordan Caron, Luke Schenn, Malcolm Subban
Bruins’ schedule released 06.21.12 at 11:32 am ET
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The NHL schedule was released on Wednesday, and assuming that there is no lockout, the B’s will open the 2012-13 season on the road against the Flyers on Oct. 11.

The team will then travel to New Jersey before playing a home-and-home with the Canadiens. Their home opener is Oct. 18 against the rival Habs. Here are some other notable dates:

– Boston will get its first crack at the Capitals on Nov. 2 in the nation’s capital. Washington eliminated the B’s in seven games in the first round.

– The last two Stanley Cup winners will play on Dec. 17 when the B’s host the Kings.

– This year’s game against the Canucks will be played on Dec. 29 in Vancouver.

– Round 3 of Taylor/Tyler is Jan. 2 in Edmonton.

For the complete schedule, click here.

Overdue, but Patrice Bergeron joins Selke club 06.21.12 at 2:43 am ET
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Of all the NHL awards, the Selke certainly isn’€™t the flashiest of them. It doesn’€™t put a player on the cover of a video game, nor does it skyrocket jersey sales. Yet for real fans ‘€“ the ones who either played at some point in their lives or have just been around the game for long enough ‘€“ it’€™s the easiest to appreciate. Finally, it belongs to Patrice Bergeron, and it couldn’€™t be more fitting.

If Bruins fans were given a poll of who should win the Selke, Tyler Seguin would probably win (before you complain about that, remember the 7th Player Award fiasco). If the Selke were a popularity contest, Pavel Datsyuk, who in any given season could be considered the best player in the league, would win it for the eight hundredth time in his career. Wednesday’€™s awarding is long overdue, but it means that the humble and quiet Bergeron is getting the credit he deserves.

For the previous six years, the Selke fraternity hasn’€™t taken many new members. Datsyuk’€™s won it three times, Rod Brind’€™Amour won it twice, and two seasons ago Ryan Kesler was the recipient for the first time in his career. Through all that, it seemed an injustice that Bergeron, who has consistently been his team’€™s most important forward given Claude Julien‘€™s defense-first system, wasn’€™t even nominated.

Anyone who has watched Bergeron over the years saw that his defensive play in addition to his faceoff prowess made him one of the best, if not the best, two-way forwards in the game. The award is said to go to ‘€œthe forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” but like many awards, it doesn’€™t always hold true to its claimed criteria.

Rather than going to the best defensive forward, it can go to the defensive forward with the best offensive numbers. Then once you’€™ve won it, you stay in the voters’€™ (it’€™s chosen by members of the Pro Hockey Writers’€™ Association) minds for a while. It’€™s just tough to get their attention.

Bergeron finally began getting that attention last spring during the Bruins’€™ Stanley Cup run. As the B’€™s kept winning and the spotlight shined a little brighter on the quiet center (and his finger, of course), the fact that he’€™d been snubbed in past seasons got a little more play with the North American media. It was no surprise afterwards that when Bergeron put up big numbers this past season (64 points, an NHL-best plus-36 and a league-high 973 faceoffs won), he ended up being the favorite for the Selke.

From a pure offensive standpoint, 64 points won’€™t get you mentioned among the best playmakers in the league, but Bergeron’€™s season provided everything that makes him such an important member of the Bruins. He played consistently against other teams’€™ top scorers and kept them off the score sheet while also killing penalties and helping the Bruins to a league-best plus-67 differential. Not surprisingly, he led all Bruins’€™ forwards in time on ice per game and shorthanded time on ice per game.

The chatter amongst other voters suggested Bergeron would be the runaway winner Wednesday night, and he was just that. He had over four times as many first-place votes as runner-up David Backes (106-24) and his 1,312 total points for the vote nearly doubled Backes’€™ 698.

Now, Bergeron is in the club. Like Dastyuk (this season’€™s third-place finisher), he should receive significant consideration each year. With linemates Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin entering the primes of their careers, Bergeron’€™s offensive numbers could still improve, making him an easier pick for those who lean towards those with more points. Plus, the re-signing of Chris Kelly means that Seguin will remain a wing long-term, so Bergeron should be able to have one of the most talented scorers in the league as a weapon for the foreseeable future.

Voting for these awards isn’€™t easy. Jonathan Quick, my top vote for the Hart trophy, didn’€™t finish in the top three. I didn’€™t have Norris winner Erik Karlsson in my top five for the award, though I did give him my fourth Hart vote. Yet after years of watching Bergeron and seeing his proficiency in all areas of the ice this season, the Selke was an easy choice. It may have taken a little longer than it should have, but the entire hockey world seems to see it now.

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Patrice Bergeron wins Selke 06.20.12 at 9:01 pm ET
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Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron won the Frank J. Selke Trophy Wednesday night, earning for the first time in his career the coveted awarded for the forward ‘€œwho best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.’€ Bergeron beat out St. Louis’ David Backes and three-time winner Pavel Datsyuk.

During the regular season, Bergeron led the NHL in plus/minus (plus-36) and was second in faceoff percentage (59.3). He has never won the Selke in his career.

Bergeron becomes the fourth winner of the award in the last seven seasons: Rod Brind’€™Amour twice, Datsyuk in three straight seasons and Ryan Kesler in the 2010-11 season.

Bruins’ training camp opens on Sep. 21 06.19.12 at 4:02 pm ET
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he Bruins announced their key preseason dates Tuesday. Rosters for rookie camp and training camp are still to come, but here are the dates:

– Rookie camp opens on Sep. 14 at Ristuccia Arena.
– Training camp opens on Sep. 21 at Ristuccia Arena.
– The Bruins play their first preseason game against the Capitals at Verizon Center on Sep. 26. The rest of their preseason schedule is as follows: September 26 at Buffalo; Sep. 29 against the Jets in Saskatoon, SK; Sep. 30 at Winnipeg; Oct. 3 against the Capitals; Oct. 5 against the Sabres and Oct. 6 at Montreal.

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